1) WOOL THAT FELL OFF OF A "KORBAN OLAH"
QUESTION: In the Mishnah (end of 25a), Akavya ben Mehalalel and the Chachamim argue about the status of hair that falls off a Bechor that has a Mum. Akavya ben Mehalalel maintains that the Kohen may derive benefit from the hair after the Bechor is slaughtered. The Chachamim maintain that one is prohibited from deriving benefit from the hair even after the Bechor is slaughtered. RASHI (beginning of 25b, DH v'Chachamim) explains that the Chachamim prohibited the hair of a living Bechor lest the owner deliberately keep the Bechor in his possession in order to use the hair that falls off, and, as a result, shear or work with the Bechor, which is forbidden.
The Gemara (end of 26a) quotes Rebbi Yanai who asked what the Halachah is with regard to wool plucked from a Korban Olah that had no Mum.
The Gemara explains that the wool of a Korban Chatas or Korban Asham is certainly permitted; this is because the Chachamim did not make an enactment to prohibit the wool. Since the Korban provides the person with atonement for his sins, there is no concern that he will keep the animal in his possession and delay offering it as a Korban, and thus there is no concern that he might shear or work with the Korban. This in contrast to a Bechor or an animal of Ma'aser Behemah, which provides no atonement for the owner, and thus the wool that falls off is certainly forbidden.
Rebbi Yanai's question involves the wool of a Korban Olah. The primary purpose of an Olah is not for atonement, and thus perhaps one might be tempted to keep the Korban in his possession in order to use the wool that falls from it. On the other hand, an Olah does attain atonement for a transgression of a positive commandment (Mitzvas Aseh), and, although that is not the primary purpose of the Olah, perhaps a person will be eager to offer it immediately and will not keep it in his possession.
Why does the Gemara not resolve this question based on the Mishnah in Erchin (21a) that says that when one is obligated to offer a Chatas or Asham, the treasurer of the Beis ha'Mikdash does not take his property as collateral that he will fulfill his obligation. In contrast, when one delays fulfilling his obligation to offer an Olah or Shelamim, the treasurer of the Beis ha'Mikdash may enter his home and forcibly confiscate the Korban from him (see BARTENURA there). Rashi there (according to the alternate text) writes that even though a person receives atonement from an Olah for a transgression of a Mitzvas Aseh, nevertheless, since it is not an obligatory offering for atonement, a person does not consider it to be a Korban for atonement and therefore he might be tempted to delay bringing it. For this reason, the treasurer of the Beis ha'Mikdash may take it from him by force.
It is clear from the Mishnah in Erchin that a person might delay bringing a Korban Olah. Why, then, is the Gemara here in doubt? It should be obvious that the wool of a Korban Olah is prohibited, since the owner might delay bringing the Olah and thereby transgress the prohibition against shearing or working with it.
ANSWER: The SHEMEN ROKE'ACH cites TOSFOS in Rosh Hashanah (6a, DH Yakriv) who explains that the Mishnah in Erchin refers to a case in which the owner of the Korban delays bringing the Korban Olah out of laziness, while he is spending his money on other, unnecessary expenses, and it is likely that soon he will have no money left to buy the Korban. In such a case, the treasurer of the Beis ha'Mikdash may forcibly take money from him to buy the Korban before he wastes all of his money.
The case of the Gemara here is different in two respects. First, the person has not yet delayed the Korban, and there is no indication that he plans to delay it, or that he is one who spends his money unnecessarily. Second, even if he does delay bringing the Olah, the concern that he might shear or work with the animal is only a doubt. Since a transgression will occur only if two different concerns materialize, it could be that the fact that an Olah provides atonement for a Mitzvas Aseh suffices to allay the possibility that both concerns will materialize -- that the person will not bring the Korban, and that he will end up shearing or working with it. This was the doubt of Rebbi Yanai. (D. BLOOM)
2) BRINGING "BIKURIM" ON THE FIFTIETH DAY OR AFTER FIFTY DAYS
QUESTION: The Mishnah states that when a Bechor is born to a Behemah Dakah (a small, domesticated animal, such as a sheep), the owner must take care of it for thirty days before he gives it to a Kohen. When a Bechor is born to a Behemah Gasah (a large, domesticated animal, such as a cow), the owner must take care of it for fifty days before he gives it to a Kohen.
The Gemara suggests that these laws are derived from the verses (Shemos 22:28-29) that compare the law of the firstborn of a sheep ("Ken Ta'aseh... l'Tzoncha") to the law of Pidyon ha'Ben, and the law of the firstborn of a Shor ("Ken Ta'aseh l'Shorcha") to the law of Bikurim. Just as Pidyon ha'Ben is performed on the thirtieth day, so must one take care of a firstborn sheep for thirty days. Just as Bikurim are brought fifty days after the fruits have ripened, so must one take care of a firstborn ox for fifty days.
The Mishnah implies that the owner takes care of the firstborn ox for fifty full days, and then after fifty days he gives the ox to a Kohen. However, the law is that Bikurim are brought on, and not after, the fiftieth day! If the law of the Bechor of an ox is derived from the law of Bikurim, why is the Bechor of an ox not given on the fiftieth day? (TOSFOS DH Mele'ascha)
ANSWER: The SHITAH MEKUBETZES (#29) and the TOSFOS SHANTZ answer that the Bikurim of an individual may be brought only after Shavuos, which is after fifty days have passed since they ripened. This is because Shavuos is a Yom Tov, and only communal Korbanos may be brought on that day.
Why, though, should an individual not be allowed to bring Bikurim on Yom Tov? The Bikurim are not a Korban which must be slaughtered; the fruits are simply placed on the Mizbe'ach, which involves no Melachah and should be permitted on Yom Tov.
1. The MAHARIT ALGAZI explains that a Korban must be brought with the Bikurim, but the accompanying Korban may not be brought on Yom Tov because it is not mandatory for that day. It is logical that Bikurim should be brought, l'Chatchilah, with its Korban, and thus the Bikurim are not brought on Yom Tov.
The MINCHAS CHINUCH (18:3) disagrees. He points out that an individual is permitted to bring a Korban Shelamim on Yom Tov if he eats it for the Yom Tov meal (as Shalmei Simchah).
2. Perhaps the Kohanim did not have any time on Yom Tov to bring private offerings, such as the Korban that accompanies Bikurim. Since the Korban could be offered after Yom Tov, it was the practice to wait until after Yom Tov to bring the Bikurim. Therefore, the Bikurim indeed were brought only after fifty days had passed. Nevertheless, there was no prohibition against bringing them on Yom Tov.
(b) The RAMBAM (Hilchos Bikurim 2:6) seems to disagree with the basis of Tosfos' question. He rules that Bikurim are set aside "until Atzeres (Shavuos), and then one may recite [the appropriate reading] over them." The Maharit Algazi points out that the words of the Rambam imply that it is obvious that Bikurim may be brought even on Shavuos itself.
3) SEPARATING "TERUMAH" A SECOND TIME
QUESTION: The Beraisa teaches that the Rabanan penalize a Kohen who helps a Yisrael raise his Bechor, prepare the animals from which the Matanos will be given, or prepare the produce in the granary. The Yisrael may not give the Bechor, Matanos, or Terumah to the Kohen who helps him. The Gemara explains that the Rabanan wanted to penalize the Yisrael who gives his Terumah to the Kohen who helps him, and to require that the Yisrael separate Terumah a second time from his fruits. However, they did not institute such a decree, because they were concerned that the Yisrael might be "Mafrish Min ha'Petur Al ha'Chiyuv"; he might think that the fruit from which he originally separated Terumah (the Terumah that he gave to the Kohen who helped him) is Tevel even mid'Oraisa, and he will separate Terumah from those fruits (which, mid'Oraisa, are exempt from Terumah) on behalf of other fruits that really are Tevel mid'Oraisa (and he will not realize that those fruits remain Tevel).
The Gemara's reasoning seems to contradict the law in many cases in which the Halachah is "Terumah v'Yachzor v'Yitrom" -- the first separation of Terumah is valid, but the Rabanan required that the owner of the fruit separate Terumah a second time (see Terumos 3:1). Why, in all of those cases, is there no concern that one might be "Mafrish Min ha'Petur Al ha'Chiyuv"? (TOSFOS DH Dilma)
ANSWER: TOSFOS answers that, in general, when the first Terumah is given to the Kohen, the owner knows that it was a valid Terumah and that the second separation of Terumah is only mid'Rabanan. He will be careful not to take Terumah -- on behalf of other fruits that are fully obligated -- from the fruits from which he took the first Terumah. In the case of the Gemara here, however, the Yisrael might think that the first Terumah was not a valid Terumah at all, and that it was given to the Kohen as compensation for helping in the granary. He might think, therefore, that his fruits are still obligated mid'Oraisa, and he will take Terumah from those fruits on behalf of fruits that really are obligated.